Author Archive | Good German

US Relaxing Standards for Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Sarah Lazare writes at Common Dreams:

The Obama administration has admitted that it is relaxing its standards for avoiding civilian deaths when it comes to ongoing air bombardments on Iraq and Syria.

Yahoo News reported Tuesday that Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told the news outlet that a standard imposed last year by President Obama, which requires “near certainty” that civilians will not be harmed in drone strikes, does not apply to the expanding war on Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria.

Journalist Michael Isikoff reports:

The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

Hayden added that U.S.

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Is This All Humans Are? Diminutive Monsters of Death and Destruction?

By Javier Ábalos Alvarez via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Javier Ábalos Alvarez via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

George Monbiot writes at the Guardian:

You want to know who we are? Really? You think you do, but you will regret it. This article, if you have any love for the world, will inject you with a venom – a soul-scraping sadness – without an obvious antidote.

The Anthropocene, now a popular term among scientists, is the epoch in which we live: one dominated by human impacts on the living world. Most date it from the beginning of the industrial revolution. But it might have begun much earlier, with a killing spree that commenced two million years ago. What rose onto its hind legs on the African savannahs was, from the outset, death: the destroyer of worlds.

Before Homo erectus, perhaps our first recognisably human ancestor, emerged in Africa, the continent abounded with monsters. There were several species of elephants.

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Study: Media Fact-Checker Says Republicans Lie More

Republican Elephant by DonkeyHotey via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Republican Elephant by DonkeyHotey via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Keep in mind the three times zero would be zero, so this study does not exonerate the Democrats.  The idea that both parties are exactly the same is just as wrong as the idea that because one is bad the other must be good.  From the Center for Media and Public Affairs:

A leading media fact-checking organization rates Republicans as less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University. The study finds that PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term. Republicans continue to get worse marks in recent weeks, despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.

According to CMPA President Dr Robert Lichter, “While Republicans see a credibility gap in the Obama administration, PolitiFact rates Republicans as the less credible party.”

The study examined 100 statements involving factual claims by Democrats (46 claims) and Republicans (54 claims), which were fact-checked by PolitiFact.com during the four month period from the start of President Obama’s second term on January 20 through May 22, 2013.

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Google Acts Like Privatized NSA: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Julian Assange as seen in 2013.  (Photo: Xavier Granja Cedeño/Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores)

Julian Assange as seen in 2013. (Photo: Xavier Granja Cedeño/Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores)

Andrea Gemanos writes at Common Dreams:

Google’s practices are “almost identical” to those of the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, Julian Assange has said.

The WikiLeaks founder made the charge Thursday in interviews with the BBC and Sky News. He spoke from the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he has lived for over two years under political asylum.

“Google’s business model is to spy,” Assange told the BBC.

“It makes more than 80 percent of its money collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behaviors and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also to others.”

“The result is, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ,” he said.

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1 in 4 Americans Open to Secession

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America the Beautiful, Pat’s Run, April 2014, Tempe, Arizona. by Kevin Dooley via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Scott Malone writes at Reuters:

The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Anger with President Barack Obama’s handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

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Embattled Childhoods May Be the Real Trauma for Soldiers With PTSD

Spc. Mitchell Eidsvold (left), Spc. Michael Hons (center), and Sgt. Scott Jenson (right) of the 191st Military Police Company race toward the finish line of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial 12K run, while wearing full combat equipment and carrying the American Flag. The run took place in Devils Lake, N.D. on June 23, 2012. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment. By The U.S. Army via Flicker (CC by 2.0)

Spc. Mitchell Eidsvold (left), Spc. Michael Hons (center), and Sgt. Scott Jenson (right) of the 191st Military Police Company race toward the finish line of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial 12K run, while wearing full combat equipment and carrying the American Flag. The run took place in Devils Lake, N.D. on June 23, 2012. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment. By The U.S. Army via Flicker (CC by 2.0)

Via the Association for Psychological Science:

New research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers challenges popular assumptions about the origins and trajectory of PTSD, providing evidence that traumatic experiences in childhood – not combat – may predict which soldiers develop the disorder.

Psychological scientist Dorthe Berntsen of Aarhus University in Denmark and a team of Danish and American researchers wanted to understand why some soldiers develop PTSD but others don’t. They also wanted to develop a clearer understanding of how the symptoms of the disorder progress.

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Scientists Turn to Pope Francis and World’s Religions to Save the Planet

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John Bingham writes at the Telegraph:

It has been one of the most fraught relationships of recent centuries, at least in the popular imagination.

But a group of scientists are pinning their hopes for the salvation of the planet, in the face of climate change and habitat destruction – on religion.

Their case, set out in an essay in the journal Science, is being described a “watershed moment” for scientists and faith leaders alike.

It argues that engaging religious leaders, rather than relying on politicians, could hold the key to mobilising billions of people around the world to change aspects of their lifestyles to help prevent catastrophic climate change.

The article singles out Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church, with its 1.2 billion-strong network of followers, as the key but calls for religious leaders of every stripe to be recruited.

It argues that religion can provide a unique combination of “moral leadership” and global organisational structures required to bring about practical changes which could have an immediate effect, such as providing millions of the world’s poorest people with cleaner forms of fuel.

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